RLabs is a concept that originated in South Africa and has been implemented internationally. The core activities of this social enterprise are skills training, community development, social and disruptive innovation, mobile and internet solutions, social enterprise incubation, impact investing and social franchising.
The graduates completed a series of free short courses in events planning, social innovation, social media, entrepreneurship, project management and photography. The initiative strictly targets unemployed youth with the aim to address the challenges in Namibian communities.
Dr Inaani Kahikuata, Director: Youth Development in the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, said that strengthening the country’s formal education system remains the government’s focal point. The Finnish Ambassador to Namibia, Anne Saloranta, also emphasised the importance of offering training to marginalised youth. “It is important to learn for sustainable future employment based on demand in labour markets. The RLabs programme exposes the graduates to real-life jobs where they can practise their newly acquired skills and receive payment based on the services delivered,” Saloranta said.
Last year, RLabs received N$1.6 million from the Embassy of Finland’s Fund for Local Co-operation (FLC).
Prof Errol Tyobeka, the Special Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor, congratulated the graduates and highlighted the significance of the event. ”Today’s graduation ceremony is significant because it illustrates how NUST has successfully combined teaching, research and community engagement, supported through international collaborations, in order to tackle national challenges. It is in this context that our University continuously strives to innovate and find solutions that would better the lives of people in our communities,” he remarked.
More than 200 youths have been trained since 2011 when RLabs was established at NUST.
The Sanlam Innovation Works Competition is public platform that offer start-up funding for projects at early-stage development that address key issues in innovation. The competition which is currently in its fourth cycle is a joint project between Sanlam Namibia and the Namibia Business Innovation Institute.
The SASAwards is the first annual award to celebrate and recognise the spirit of innovation and achievement in the startup ecosystem in Southern Africa (SADC region).